(Although I also don’t think there’s anything wrong with tweeting a result list even when you are – in one sense or another – at the top of that list. Perhaps living in England has made you a bit too afraid of immodesty? )
I suppose that’s true if you define a Golden Age as the time period when the best games were produced. Personally I consider the first half of the 80s as the Golden Age of commercial IF and the late 90s-early 00s the Golden Age of hobbyist IF, but modern games are consistently far better than almost anything produced back then.
It could be that there are better games now than there were back then.
Things that were a staple of the genre got dropped as times changed. That doesn’t just have to do with context (it’s what every game did so by golly we’ll do it too! Besides, the gamer is paying for this and expects months of frustration!), it has to do with this artform developing (what, really, when you get down to it, is the point of walking deads, mazes, and random daemons? Let’s just do away with them and focus on other things). Although cave paintings have a charm of their own, you’d be hard pressed to rate them above greek urn paintings, and harder pressed to rate THOSE above the Flemish renaissance masters.
For my money, though, the old-school classics on the list - or the oldies-but-goodies - surely deserve their place there.
I AM surprised that Trinity rated so low. And I am NOT surprised that Planetfall is not there at all - it’s outworn its gimmick at last.
Yes, I was trying very hard to avoid a comparison like that, but I guess someone would eventually make it. We do have throwbacks, and we do have games trying completely different things just to see if they stick, so it’s probably too early to really compare IF to an artform that’s been around since the very earliest forms of human civilization. But for the purposes of my post I thought it sufficed.
Plus, the reason I stopped at the renaissance is that if you come too close to modern days you get into an area where quality is debatable, and where some people may find it brilliant and others will find it horrendous, and as you say you’d probably prefer a piece of old art to this piece of new art - I so didn’t want to go there! Although, if you care to, you can certainly compare that to IF as well!
Zork is a special case, I think. You can separate the question of whether it’s massively influential (yes), an amazing technical achievement given the limitations of the day (yes), or introduced you to IF (true for many, including me), from whether it stands, objectively, as one of the 20 best IF games, but I’m not sure everyone does, and frankly nothing about the exercise requires them to. Many of the same things could likely be said of The Hobbit, which I never played; Jimmy Maher’s writeup (filfre.net/2012/11/the-hobbit/) suggests that I probably wouldn’t put it on my own top 20, unless unintentional comedy were a major criterion. Lots of things go into the subjective “favorite” judgment; not much point in trying to dissect it.
Right–a few honorable exceptions (e.g., Shades of Grey, Cosmoserve) aside, no one other than the most hardcore of completists would rationally want to try anything written with The Quill, GAGS, AGT, etc. now. The TADS games are significantly better, but the volume was quite low.
I’m impressed. You and Jimmy could have some fun conversations!
Right. There was a time when games were often conceived as a battle of wits, of sorts, between the author and the player, and a can-you-top-this escalating difficulty competition. It’s certainly hard to understand, say, the Phoenix games any other way. That’s not how authors approach games now–a good thing, to my mind. But it’s hard to objectively compare something written in 1983 for one purpose to something written in 2015 for an entirely different purpose, and frankly I wouldn’t expect anyone to try.
All of which is to say: no need to filter for nostalgia, IMO. If it worked for you then, it worked for you then; no need to apologize for it.
I’m surprised that Trinity is below AMFV, as the former seems to me clearly superior as a game and as a story, but de gustibus, etc. Agree on Planetfall not surviving the test of time, but I didn’t play it until the hobbyist era, so my expectations weren’t the same.
If anyone’s got the stomach for it, it might be revealing in a mercenary kind of way to examine which games got bumped off of the list – dead man’s boots! – this time around, and to examine which periods were represented by the losers and the replacements. (Also, to see how on-both-lists games had risen or fallen in our estimation.)
Adventure, William Crowther and Donald Woods (1976) Planetfall, Steve Meretzky (1983) The Guild of Thieves, Rob Steggles (1987) Arthur: the Quest for Excalibur, Bob Bates (1989) Eric the Unready, Bob Bates (1993) So Far, Andrew Plotkin (1996) Sunset over Savannah, Ivan Cockrum (1997) LASH – Local Asynchronous Satellite Hookup, Paul O’Brian (2000) The Gostak, Carl Muckenhoupt (2001) 1893: A World’s Fair Mystery, Peter Nepstad (2002) Blue Chairs, Chris Klimas (2004) Vespers, Jason Devlin (2005) Delightful Wallpaper, Andrew Plotkin (2006) Suveh Nux, David Fisher (2007) Everybody Dies, Jim Munroe (2008) Hoist Sail for the Heliopause and Home, Andrew Plotkin (2010) The Warbler’s Nest, Jason McIntosh (2010) Aotearoa, Matt Wigdahl (2010)
Games from both eras got bumped, but it’s probably fair to say that, proportionally, the list has shifted toward hobbyist-era IF. The commercial era was more heavily represented in the prior version.
Notably, Vespers got 6 votes last time and LASH and The Gostak got 5, but all got 3 or less this time.
For those who’d like to know, the games that dropped out of the list got the following number of votes in the 2015 edition.
So Far, Andrew Plotkin (1996)
LASH – Local Asynchronous Satellite Hookup, Paul O’Brian (2000)
Blue Chairs, Chris Klimas (2004)
Suveh Nux, David Fisher (2007)
Sunset over Savannah, Ivan Cockrum (1997)
The Gostak, Carl Muckenhoupt (2001)
Vespers, Jason Devlin (2005)
Everybody Dies, Jim Munroe (2008)
The Warbler’s Nest, Jason McIntosh (2010)
Planetfall, Steve Meretzky (1983)
The Guild of Thieves, Rob Steggles (1987)
Eric the Unready, Bob Bates (1993)
Delightful Wallpaper, Andrew Plotkin (2006)
Hoist Sail for the Heliopause and Home, Andrew Plotkin (2010)
Aotearoa, Matt Wigdahl (2010)
Adventure, William Crowther and Donald Woods (1976)
Arthur: the Quest for Excalibur, Bob Bates (1989)
1893: A World’s Fair Mystery, Peter Nepstad (2002)
After some tinkering around with numbers relative to last time… my conclusion is that the sample size is way too small to draw many conclusions. Most games either more-or-less maintained their position, within a few places, or dropped a way to accommodate new games.
However! The one game which rose substantially in the rankings since last time is Mentula Macanus. I don’t think that Mentula’s reputation has skyrocketed particularly since the last poll - everything that was said about it was said within a few months of it coming out, really. But it came out in the same year as the poll, and it’s not exactly a single-sitting kind of game, so perhaps not everybody had had a chance to get around to it yet.
Of course, in the meantime Mentula Macanus also proved its canonicity by inspiring modern masterworks like The Cavity of Time and Nemesis Macana, games which missed getting into the top 50 by a mere four votes!